WPX 2012: Doing What’s Right vs. Looking for the Camera

6 June 2012, at 5:04pm

USA – How do we deal with undercover videos taken at farms? That issue drew a large crowd during the first day of the World Pork Expo in Des Moines, writes Carla Wright for The PigSite.

Shortly after purchasing a 6000 sow Iowa farm, Lynn Becker, Minnesota pork producer, received a call from PETA revealing that they had an undercover video of inappropriate treatment of hogs on his newly acquired farm which would be released immediately to their members via email.

Before he was able to address welfare issues at the Iowa hog facility, Becker, for whom good animal care and treatment is a priority, found himself at the center of a media storm. Within 24 hours, he had received over 1,000 emails .

“We all make mistakes. There are things we could’ve handled better. However, animal care and treatment is our number one concern, “ Becker stated during a conference at World Pork Expo 2012.

“There were inappropriate actions on the video aimed at Hormel, but which affected all of the industry.“

Becker did the right thing by first calling PETA, and then taking corrective action.

According to Cindy Cunningham, National Pork Board, producers should have an Emergency Action Plan, as undercover videos are popping up about every five or six months.

Both Cunningham and Becker stressed the need to always “do the right thing“ by establishing a culture of humane animal care.

“Employees should be trained, certified and encouraged to always report any abuse they see in the barn. If producers are using an industry approved practice, the National Pork Board can defend the producer, as any situation is an industry situation,“ said Cunningham.

Cunningham reiterated, “Do the right thing in the barn, but if a video surfaces, have a plan in place to protect your family and employees and to ensure your animals are well cared for, and have a designated person to speak with the media.“

Three years ago, the National Pork Board developed We Care, a program that can be seen in full at the website: . To ensure best practices in key areas such as food safety, animal care and environmental stewardship, pork producers comply with applicable federal, state and local regulations. The industry has gone further, however, by instituting education and training programs to consistently advocate for ethical practices in all areas of pork production.

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